Nutritional information at fast food restaurants - useful or not?

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by Sandra Parker

WVEC.com

Posted on February 22, 2011 at 7:25 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- When eating out, do you look at the nutritional information of the products you're ordering? 

Registered Dietitian Shaye Arluk, who works for Mcdonald's, says not everyone does.

"I think it's changing the way some people order and I think as we can make that more the majority of the way people are ordering and changing their habits, then the more we're going for the health of the nation."

For Noland Cunningham, the nutritional information isn't really important. He says if he wants to order a quarter pounder with cheese, then he's going to do it.  But when it comes to what his four-year old grand daughter Gabby orders, he says he pays more attention.

"We try to teach her what's healthy and what's good."  

And it seems to be working.  While she may got to McDonald's for the chicken nuggets, she also orders milk and apples to go with it. 

A balanced meal is possible no matter where you eat , according to Arluk.  She says you just have to know where to look.

"The nutritional information needs to get out there.  You truly can eat anything and live a very healthy life.  But you have to be active and you have to balance your nutrition and the only way to truly balance your nutrition is to know what you're eating."

That's why many restaurants are looking for more ways to put nutritional information out there in front of customers when they're ordering.  At Panera Bread, the calorie information is right up on the board when you are trying to decided what to order. Arluk says she would like to see that happen at McDonald's as well.

"It's happening in New York and California.  So I'm not sure when it is in our future, but I see it in our future."

In the mean time,  the information can be found on the wrappers of most products at McDonald's.  It's also available on the tray liners if you want to check it out before you order. Or even better, you can go online and check out the information at most restaurants before you even step foot in the door. 

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